Slated for inauguration in the near future, the multi-purpose synthetic court at Piravom St Joseph’s School ground which is touted to be a major leap forward in the state’s sports infrastructure, has turned out to be grossly unfit for use. Initiated as a part of the SMILE project by the-then Sports Minister K B Ganesh Kumar in 2011, the court, worth Rs 17.5 lakh, has already developed cracks on its uneven surface. Lack of maintenance has resulted in grass sprouting on the surface and improper fencing has made it a magnet for stray animals.
The high-profile project monitored by the National Games Secretariat was a dream-come-true for the sports lovers in Piravom. The foundation stone was laid by the former minister in 2011, at a function presided over by Piravom panchayat president Sabu K Jacob.
According to Siby Cyriac, an official at the school, the construction was to have been completed by March 31 2011. However, after several delays, the construction was finally completed only two months ago. According to school authorities, there was no urgency on the part of any government department to ensure that the construction is carried out properly and without delays.
“No official from the National Games Secretariat or any other department has ever come to inspect the work. The construction was completed in a hasty and haphazard manner, without anyone to supervise the work. The synthetic acrylic coating of the court started developing cracks within a month after the construction was finished. The surface is uneven and rough and if athletes practice on this kind of court, it can lead to health issues for them,” an official at the school said.
According to Joy Thomas, former Kerala University volleyball coach, who currently coaches the St Joseph’s team, a synthetic court’s coating must have at least 10mm thickness. “However, here the authorities are not willing to reveal the thickness of the synthetic coating,” he said. He also pointed out the flaws in the construction of the court and the uneven surface by highlighting the areas where shallow pools of water formed after the rains.
Experts say that the court should have been built with focus on volleyball as there are a lot of upcoming volleyball players in this area, but presently, the court is simply unfit for playing any kind of game and the response from the authorities to abeen donated by the school, and now they are regretting the decision. “Similar problems abound at several other educational institutions in the state, including MA College, Kothamangalam and Newman College, Thodupuzha,” Thomas added. “We are keen to ensure the success of such projects as they would take sports infrastructure in the state to a new level,” said F Najumuddin, Additional Director, National Games Secretariat. KITCO is monitoring the work and a Mumbai-based construction company, Fin-corps International, carried out the construction.”We received some complaints about the track. We are looking into the issue and hopeful of resolving all the problems at the earliest,” he added.